Leaving a legacy vs. leaving a “legacy”
Kevin F. Hunter
Project Manager/Business Analyst
Professional Services – Profound Logic
The IBM “AS/400” (iSeries) generation faces a crossroads.
Are you leaving a legacy?
I hope so, but then again, I hope not.
To a 50- or 60-something year-old who has spent decades of their life devoted to the IBM midrange platform—several versions of RPG code that have stood the test of time—there is a somber decision just around the corner. Discussions of modernization vs. migration, rewriting vs. replacing, and outsourcing vs. hiring can leave your head spinning, wondering if it’s all worth it in the 5 to 15 years you might have left in your career.
Sooner or later, it comes down to deciding which legacy you wish to leave behind.
You know what a legacy system is and to many it’s a negative term. While it is often used to describe an outdated or cumbersome-to-maintain system or software application, there are still legitimate reasons legacy systems remain crucial to an organization’s success. Your company didn’t survive this long on canned software programs. No, it’s those customized routines and features improved on over years of tuning your business practices that give your company its competitive edge. So, just because it’s written in RPG code doesn’t mean it’s outdated.
The problem becomes more on how will that customized RPG code be maintainable in the future and how your company can avoid losing its competitive advantage if you won’t be able to cope with new practices and technologies. Is that the legacy you wish to leave your career with? One your employer and coworkers may struggle to cope with once you are gone?
It’s inevitable that we’ll all leave a legacy behind. But will yours be a legacy system with important RPG code for someone else to worry about? Or will your legacy be that you took enough pride in that code to say “we need to modernize while I’m still here and get our priceless logic into a language that can be maintained by a new generation and take advantage of new and exciting technologies?”
Whichever you choose, the legacy you leave behind will be remembered. I hope it’s a great legacy of leaving things in good shape and not the case of leaving a legacy system for others to struggle with.